Council's robust plan for the future
Councillors have heard that the core strategy for Northumberland will be submitted within Government timescales and that it will be an even more robust plan as a result of further consultation this year.
A report considered by the economic growth and corporate services overview and scrutiny committee outlined key feedback from the consultation on the pre-submission draft plan; and the next steps in preparation of the Northumberland Core Strategy
After taking on board feedback from members of the public, businesses and local communities Northumberland County Council proposes to change parts of the core strategy and consult on these before submitting the plan to Government for examination.
The proposed timetable will mean that major modifications to some parts of the plan are published and consulted on in June and July this year before submission in December 2016, well in advance of the Government deadline.
Through the core strategy and the economic strategy for the county the council wants to ensure a prosperous Northumberland, founded on quality local jobs and connected communities. It wants to help to create 10,000 new jobs by 2031.
Key to this is attracting new workers, who need affordable and decent homes, and the council wants to extend choice in the housing market and address the shortfall in affordable homes.
Councillor Allan Hepple said: “We are determined that Northumberland will grow and prosper – with more jobs, more residents of working age and a greater choice in the housing market.
“To do this we have to ensure that the core strategy and evidence are robust, and can pass Government inspection, but most importantly can deliver these future benefits for Northumberland.
“We have listened carefully to the views of residents, and as a result we are planning to change parts of the plan and consult on these.
“I must stress that we will still be submitting the plan within Government timescales, and there is no risk of intervention, as has recently been inaccurately stated. Northumberland is still ahead of some other North East councils in preparation of a plan.
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“We know that it is important to finalise the policies in the core strategy as soon as is possible – but they must also be robust and the right ones for Northumberland.
“Some critics don’t seem to care about the robustness of the plan, or the level of public consultation – but we do. We are making every effort to ensure that we have a robust plan and it will be all the more credible as a result of these further modifications.
“There was a very good response to last year’s consultation – and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to look at the document, to come along to a drop-in event, or provided their comments and feedback.
“We will be working with local communities, including parish and town councils and neighbourhood planning groups, before finalising proposed changes to parts of the plan.”
Issues that have been raised include the need to amend wind farm policy in line with new government guidance, the need for more retail development, ongoing discussions with other agencies such as Highways England and the Homes and Communities Agency, and further examination of Green Belt boundaries around smaller settlements in Northumberland.
Through the core strategy the council has proposed modest changes to some Green Belt boundaries, but only in exceptional circumstances, with more than 99% of green belt in Northumberland protected.
The proposed revised timetable for the core strategy will mean that major modifications will be published and consulted on in June and July this year. The final strategy will be agreed in November and submitted to Government in December. This would see examination by Government in spring 2017 and adoption by summer 2017.
Comments made by the overview and scrutiny committee will be reported to the council’s Cabinet on 21 March.